Saturday, April 5, 2014


Adjacent to Shirakawa Dori Street.....through the old wooden houses, lined back streets & alleyways of Kyoto's famous geisha districts and you can see geiko or maiko ( Geisha's and Geisha 'apprentices') walking along in full dress, hair and makeup. (Sorry, my battery ran out, so I couldn't photograph them.)

They look exactly like this!

We went to a show called 'Gion Corner'....put on by the Kyoto Traditional Musxical Art Foundation.
First they showed a traditional tea ceremony which we were now quite familiar with. We then watched traditional instruments being played. Next came 'Kyogen' (ancient comic play) which was historically performed as an 'interlude' for Noh plays. After the 16th century, Kyogen was exclusive to the warrior class.  Masks are rarely used (unlike in Noh plays) and they are realistic.

A Bunraku (puppet play) was fascinating. Three manipulators of the puppet are dressed completely in black including a head covering.  The puppet is life size and they manage to  convey so much emotion as they depict a charming story. 
This one was 'Datemusume Koi-no Higanoko' the famous 'Oshichi at Fire-Watch Tower'.

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There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.